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Vitamin D plays an important role in bone health, as well as in immune, nerve, and muscle function. In addition, it may play a role in protecting against cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, autoimmune diseases, and depression. Most children and adults (ages 1 to 70) need 600 IU of Vitamin D per day, though older adults need a bit more.

The Sunshine Vitamin

Vitamin D is known as the sunshine vitamin because our bodies can actually make and absorb vitamin D from sun exposure. According to the NIH, 5 – 30 minutes of sun exposure between 10 am and 3 pm twice a week to the face, arms, legs, or back without sunscreen is usually enough to help boost vitamin D intake. This process varies widely depending on the season, time of day, cloud cover, skin color, and sunscreen use, so eating food sources of vitamin D (such as fortified dairy products, or some mushrooms) is also important.

If you aren’t able to get outdoors in the middle of the day or if you’re concerned that you’re not getting enough vitamin D, include these foods in your diet:

Vegan Vitamin D Food Sources

Food Serving Vitamin D (IU)
Maitake mushrooms ** 1 cup, diced 786
Portobello mushrooms ** 1 cup, sliced 634
Soy milk, original, fortified with vitamin D 1 cup 120*
Almond milk, original, fortified with vitamin D 1 cup 100*
Chanterelle mushrooms, raw** 1 cup 114
Orange juice, fortified with
vitamin D
1 cup 100*
Soy yogurt, fortified with vitamin D 150 grams 80*
Ready-to-eat cereal, fortified with vitamin D ¾ – 1 cup 40*

Vegetarian Vitamin D Food Sources

Food Serving VITAMIN D (IU)
Milk, low-fat, fortified with vitamin D 1 cup 127
Yogurt, fortified with vitamin D 6 ounces 80
Egg 1 whole, medium 41
Cheese, Swiss 1 ounce 6

Do I need a supplement?

Vegetarian and Vegan Menu Plan Book

As with all dietary supplements, it’s important to discuss vitamin D supplementation with your healthcare provider, especially if you’re vegan. Your healthcare provider can help you determine how much (if any) supplementation is right for you. Vegans may be at greater risk for low vitamin D intake, but they can obtain vitamin D from regular exposure to sun and fortified foods.

For a more guided look at how to build healthy vegetarian meal plans, check out our Oldways 4-week Vegetarian & Vegan Diet Menu Plan, which will help you create satisfying, balanced, budget-friendly meals inspired by cuisines from different cultures. The recipes are based off of the Vegetarian & Vegan Diet Pyramid and feature an abundance of delicious, healthy foods such as vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, whole grains, legumes, herbs, and spices.

Kelly Toups, Director of Nutrition

**Exposing mushrooms to UV light causes measurable increases in the vitamin D2 content; amount of vitamin D2 will vary depending on the type of light and duration of exposure.
*May vary depending on product.
All nutritional information from USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference or food manufacturer labeling.


Dulu Boruah
Very useful.
Darshil Shah
What does Fortified stand for? Is that separate product?
Hi Darshil, thanks for the question! "Fortified" means that a nutrient was added to a food that it originally did not contain or contained in small amounts. So in this case, fortified milk means more vitamin D was added during processing. It's an added bonus because vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium.
I think, we all have the Sun. So just throw out your kids in the sun to play rather than playing indoor games. Best way to get vitamin D. The problem will only occur for people in north and South of the world which has Sunlight available for only 6 months a year.

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